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Proc. R. Soc. B. 273, 1602 (2006) 2697-2702
Marine animal behaviour: neglecting ocean currents can lead us up the wrong track.
P. Gaspar1, J.-Y. Georges2, A. Lenoble1, S. Ferraroli2, S. Fossette2, Y. Le Maho2

Tracks of marine animals in the wild, now increasingly acquired by electronic tagging of individuals, are of prime interest not only to identify habitats and high-risk areas, but also to gain detailed information about the behaviour of these animals. Using recent satellite-derived current estimates and leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) tracking data, we demonstrate that oceanic currents, usually neglected when analysing tracking data, can substantially distort the observed trajectories. Consequently, this will affect several important results deduced from the analysis of tracking data, such as the evaluation of the orientation skills and the energy budget of animals or the identification of foraging areas. We conclude that currents should be systematically taken into account to ensure the unbiased interpretation of tracking data, which now play a major role in marine conservation biology.
1 :  CLS - Collecte Localisation Satellites
2 :  DEPE-IPHC - Département Ecologie, Physiologie et Ethologie
Sciences du Vivant/Biodiversité/Evolution
Biologging – travelling versus foraging behaviour – impact of ocean currents – marine animal behaviour – satellite oceanography – wild-life tracking
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